When you’re from the U.S.A., Switzerland, Brazil, Denmark, or Australia, you have no reason to fear telling people your nationality. These are just a few countries where the answer to “Where are you from?” is a non-issue. And why shouldn’t it be? God has blessed each nation on the Earth in one way or another, most with generous prosperity, overall moral value, and many with the foundation of Scripture sprinkled throughout their law and society.
The country I am from is no exception. In fact, God has blessed my nation so abundantly, so eternally, and so profoundly, that it stars as a beacon of His faithfulness in the best selling book of all time! The Holy Bible!
So, you would think that I’d run far and wide proudly proclaiming that my origins lie in Israel!! But, in reality, I don’t. There are 3 reasons I am cautious to tell people I’m from from Israel that show up at the forefront of my mind whenever the possibility presents itself.
Media Lies Are Alive and Well
Here’s a newsflash for you: the media often lies! And when it comes to Israel, the medium of news worldwide is so biased, that if one didn’t have the Bible as a reference point, you would believe that Israel is the most peace-hating, greedy, even murderous, nation on the earth.
Try some of these lies for size:
Need I say more? The negative image of Israel is rampant in the media, and countless people sadly believe it :-(.
I cannot forget personally hearing an interview of Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, a couple of years ago. The drop dead gorgeous CNN interviewer literally introduced him this way, “We will now hear from Binyamin Netanyahu, the man against peace in the Middle East…” If I hadn’t heard it with my own ears, I would not have believed this was actually said on an internationally acclaimed media news channel.
The media has the capability and power to shape people’s opinion.
I am not into politics. I honestly am not. My life is so full and busy that I have never had much of an interest in following the ongoing, ever-changing world of politics. Whether that is good, or bad, I don’t know. But I have observed one thing – most people have a very strong opinion about Israel.
One way or the other, favouring or opposing, sympathetic or callous, loving or hateful, from my observations reactions are one or the other – to the extreme.
So, I’m cautious in telling folks I’m from Israel, mainly because I simply don’t know, based on all they know, or think they know, about my Land, which way they’re going to go. The reaction is unpredictable. And quite frankly, at times I’m afraid to find out which it is.
Anti-Semitism alive and well
Living in New Zealand, I often get asked a question:“What is the difference between being Jewish and being Israeli?” Click To Tweet
While I found this curiosity amusing at first (since the answer is so obvious to me :-)), I have come to appreciate people wanting to understand the terminology. Those who are ask, do so sincerely, and I consider myself somewhat of an ambassador when I respond.
Israel is the homeland of the Jews. Since it’s establishment in 1948, it has been a sanctuary to every person on the Earth who has Jewish descent. After millennia of wandering, and not truly belonging anywhere, God saw fit to fulfill Biblical prophecy and reestablish a place where His people can freely dwell.
To be Jewish is to be from the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; in other words, a descendant of any of the 12 Tribes of Israel. According to Jewish law, a person is only considered Jewish if their mother is Jewish, however, Biblically, the father was the one who passed on the Jewish lineage.
Anyone who is Jewish may live in Israel, as I mentioned before, which would make those Jews, Israelis (just like like living in Hungary makes one Hungarian. etc.) However, not every Jew is an Israeli. If a Jew lives in the U.S.A., for example, He is Jewish, but is an American Jew.
I thought you may be interested in taking a look at where the millions of Jews on the Earth today are located:
|Regions with significant populations|
|Rest of the world||218,100|
Now, back to my point. Throughout history there have always been Anti-Semites. These are people who discriminate against or are prejudiced or hostile toward Jews.
Sometimes called “the longest hatred,” Anti-semitism has persisted in many forms for over two thousand years.
Anti-semitic attitudes are responsible for historical tragedies such as the Crusades, the Pogroms, and the Holocaust.
If you’re interested, Wikipedia has an excellent Timeline of Anti-Semitism from antiquity to the 21st century.
But did you know that Anti-Semitism is alive and well today!
This will give you a good idea of Anti-Semitism in the world today:
Some other articles you may like to read on the subject:
Fear is Alive and Well
I must be completely honest and say that where Israel is concerned there is often fear.
What I mean is that due to the ignorance that often surrounds the enigmatic, ever-changing idea of where Israel is at and where people need to stand as far as she is concerned, folks often face a decision head-on when they meet someone from Israel. None of this is spoken of course, but I do sometimes see it in people’s eyes.
They hear I’m from Israel, and it requires them to know their take on things and have an opinion about it, which often they have not yet thought through. There is also the hidden fear of knowing what to say since they may not feel up to date with all that’s happening in the region, and don’t want to show their ignorance.
Personally, I can tell you that even I myself don’t keep up with all that goes on there! It can literally change from hour to hour, and sometimes someone will mention something to me about a current situation that I have not yet even heard of!
So there is definitely some kind of fear I see coming from people hearing I’m from Israel for those reasons.
And then there is my fear. I hate to say it, but sometimes I just don’t know what people are going to do with the information. If I don’t know whether someone is Muslim or not, and they actually are, are they going to contact someone to report us? Will they follow us to see where we live?
I know this sounds paranoid, and believe me, I know that not all Muslims are Israel haters, but if someone isn’t a Bible believer, and may potentially be Muslim, seeing themselves as an enemy of Israel and the Jewish people, then it’s unpredictable to me how that person will respond. I just can’t be sure that they will not take further measures with what they know.
I would never give someone I suspect may be Muslim our address or contact information. It’s so sad that it has to be like this, but we are a people with enemies (we don’t view them as our enemies, but they sadly view us as theirs). You see, my friend, as tragic as it sounds, all Jews, and Israelis in particular, are always high up on the potential target list for terrorist attacks.
So, while God is sovereign and protects His people, we still need to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves (Matthew 10:16).
In closing, I will always be thankful and feel privileged to belong to the Jewish people and to be an Israeli. I realize, though, that my nationality is not a straightforward matter. There are issues beneath the surface that lurk unspoken, or alternatively issues surrounding my nation and people often can be the source of the very outspoken.
This is part of the calling, and I accept it.God has His watchful eye on Israel, and on her people. Click To Tweet
And those in my position can be comforted that “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7).
But also, let us remember that Israel still has a plan and purpose in God’s Kingdom and in the future of this Earth.
Despite her rebellion towards God and her people’s sin, speaking of Israel the Lord promises:
For a brief moment I deserted you,
but with great compassion I will gather you.
In overflowing anger for a moment
I hid my face from you,
but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,”
says the Lord, your Redeemer.
You, as a Gentile, have a part to play, for God has declared:
I will bless those who bless you [Israel], and him who dishonors you [Israel] I will curse, and in you [Israel] all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
Did anything in this post shed some new light for you? What will your response be next time you met a Jew or Israeli?
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